Monday, May 16, 2011

Decoding Skorman: "Branded"


Pikes Peak

What's in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.

The capstone of Richard Skorman's 10-point plan for Colorado Springs job growth and economic development presumes to "build our True Brand":  

10.  Build our True Brand: The Big Tent
New ideas, unparalleled assets and a sleek and stable city government mean nothing if “Colorado Springs” continues to be a negative label in the minds of potential employers.
When I travel, I find myself constantly defending Colorado Springs. Our image is one of narrow- mindedness, intolerance, anti-good-government and infighting. No wonder our children leave. No wonder outside businesses hesitate to invest here. The bottom line is that without a more positive brand, we will never grow jobs. The time is now. Our community is ripe for this growth.
The world needs to know the true reality of Colorado Springs. We have a huge arts community and infrastructure, we are a well-educated community, our locally-educated children go on to fine schools and prominent careers, our local defense and aerospace industries house some of the top scientists in the country, our local state university is a powerhouse of innovation and national recognition, and we have a quality of life and outdoor infrastructure second to none. And this list is only a start.
We are also a city rich in cultural and ethnic diversity. Many communities share Colorado Springs. Our population consists of many different skin colors, faiths, languages, sexual orientations and belief systems. A talented, diverse population is good for attracting new employers.
Our diversity includes the socially conservative faith community, which has been an important local economic driver and provides a rich and vital viewpoint. We have plenty of room for other perspectives in Colorado Springs. People of good faith understand: talented individuals are good for jobs no matter what their belief systems might be.
Even the anti-tax movement has made our community a better place. Granting citizens the right to vote on tax increases has created a more accountable government in Colorado Springs than can be found in most other areas of the country. But, if we are known only as a community that refuses to invest in itself, made famous for shutting off streetlights and removing trashcans from our parks, then our economy will continue to suffer.
New ideas, unparalleled assets and a state-of-the-art and stable city government mean nothing if Colorado Springs has to defend against a negative label in the minds of potential employers.
Key Actions
As Mayor I will:
• Work diligently to promote the “real” Colorado Springs. Negative, stereotyped or overly broad portrayals of Colorado Spring in the state, national or international media will never go unchallenged by me. Not on my watch. The image is not true, and it’s not good for jobs.
Visit every school in the city once a year as John Hickenlooper did, not just to promote health, fitness and our beautiful environment but also to instill a community-wide pride, engagement and positive identity among our youth.
Consistently and visibly communicate the richness and value of our Colorado Springs culture to primary employers who want to relocate and to local employers who contribute here.
I’ll travel anywhere to encourage employer relocation and share the richness of Colorado Springs.

  • a mark of disgrace : stigma brand of poverty;
  • a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer : make
  • a tool used to produce a brand

Old English brand ‘act of burning something’ is cognate with German Brand and Dutch brand. The same root, modified, appears in our English verb burn and in its German synonyns brennen and verbrennen In Middle English, the verb brand meant to burn with a hot iron for identification.

When the compound adjective "brand-new" first appeared in print more than four hundred years ago, the term described newly struck swords hot from the armourer’s forge.  A brand was a sword, and sword-new was something all shiny and fresh...hence, "brand-new."  It came to mean a burning log or stick, the “flaming brands” of old adventure stories. From brand-new, it reacquired the meaning ‘sword.’ Shakespeare used the term “fire-new”, and Tennyson wrote of “the brand, Excalibur” when he named King Arthur’s magic sword.

Of course animals were the first to be branded, followed closely by humans.  The first use of brand in print as “brand mark” to mean trademark occurred in 1827, when such proofs of ownership were burnt into wooden casks of wine and liquor, then into timber, metal, and finally printed on paper products and labels. From there, brand names took off, ushering in not only protective trademarks but also centuries of legal battles to protect such names. 

William Gordon Casselman, © 2007

The brand for the alpha++ world class city of New York, NY is "I Love NY".    And I do.

Chicago is the "Windy City."  And it is.

Virginia is for Lovers; way back when I was a kid, the TV commercials advertising this made me strangely uncomfortable.   I asked my mom then what "lovers" were…and after a moment's hesitation, she explained that it meant “boyfriend and girlfriend.”  Oh, how words and concepts and times have changed.

Of course, over time I came to realize that "lover" is merely a pseudonym for "sex partner."  Virginia's brand is purportedly based upon the Lovings -- America's first legally married interracial couple.  I guess that's supposed to make Virginia's sexually suggestive brand o.k.

The brand for Wall, SD is "Home of the World's Largest Drugstore."

The document below takes a look at how a city might go about creating a global, world class brand for itself. Again, nothing new except for some of the jargon.


Allow me to tear down this construct one card at a time.

Skorman claims that Colorado Springs has been negatively branded as narrow-minded, intolerant, "anti-good-government"  (?)   and infighting.

"Narrow-minded and intolerant" towards whom?  Or need I even ask?  

OH, OF COURSE it's the GLBT (or, for those purists who believe that ladies come first) LGBT "community" who feel excluded; I wonder why?  

Could it have anything to do with the fact that -- for whatever reason -- a bunch of confused individuals choose to brand themselves "gay" and insist that it's normal?   Sorry, but I don't buy it...and I've already plainly stated why in the links listed below (in no particular order)
Gay is *not* the new black, although gays did learn their ouch-that-hurt routine from blacks -- taught and learned too well, I'm afraid.  I'm beyond caring at this point about the hurt feelings of this one and that; for God's sake, have you no pride??  Toughen up, already!  Did you ever stop to think that maybe the reason you walk around feeling sad and hurt all of the time has very little -- if anything -- to do with the "narrow-mindedness and intolerance" of others...perhaps YOU are OVERLY SENSITIVE over every little thing.   

There's an actual word for it, you know:

Main Entry:sissy
Part of Speech:noun
Synonyms:babychicken*, cowardcream puff, crybaby,cuckold, daisy, jellyfish, milksop, momma's boy,namby-pamby, pansy, pantywaist, pushover,wimp*, wuss, yellow belly


For all their fabled "community", my friend Nikki died alone...without a single "community" member at his side; without a member of the "community" giving a damn.

"Never let 'em see you sweat" and "Never let 'em see you cry"
-- two time-tested exhortations that are commonly used to encourage youngsters to BUCK UP;
how can anyone with even a modicum of dignity or pride pretend to be hurt by so little, so often????

"No wonder our children leave."
Am I missing something -- I was under the impression that Skorman has no children.  Maybe I'm wrong...or maybe he's just making general assumptions about other people's kids.  Plenty of people stay in Colorado Springs.  Heck, my family up and moved to Albany, New York -- have you any idea how perfect it is there?  A totally happening place where we felt absolutely included; evenso, we eventually returned to the home of our youth and our hearts.

"Negative, stereotyped or overly broad portrayals of Colorado Springs in the state, national or international media..."
Take it from the Colorado Springs hater experts, Skorman's friends at the Colorado Springs Independent, who have worked tirelessly since its inception to promulgate a false impression of this city as a modern-day Bedrock, filled with hillbillies, bigots, and breeders thumping Bibles.  You'd think they were Eva Gabor down on the farm at Green Acres; so sophisticated, so cultured...unfamiliar with our coarse prairie ways.  Gotta wonder what caused them to vacate their ivory towers and big city idylls; why, and what for -- surely not merely to mosey over and live amongst us hicks in the sticks ala Margaret Mead in Melanesia?  

I thought Skorman originally hailed from New York and moved here to attend Colorado College.  Well, to look at Skorman and his own successful businesses, you'd never know Colorado Springs to be unhip, intolerant and business-unfriendly; ah, must be due to all his capitalist business acumen.
"...will never go unchallenged by me. Not on my watch."  
Oh-oh...suddenly Skorman sounds like a tough guy; something about his words here seems especially false and maudlin. 

Our city's current brand,
with a muted Pikes Peak in the background
Friends, in nationwide studies gauging cost of lifestyle, city's future job growth potential, the health of the city, places to go and things to do, education opportunities, commute times and diversity, Colorado Springs ranks among the:
  • Top 20 Best Cities for Families
  • Top 20 Friendliest Bike Cities
  • Top 10 Places to Live
  • "#3 Midsize Magnet City for U.S. Young, Talent Workers"
So, what kind of talent is Skorman still looking for...the Broadway variety?

It's easy to read between the lines on this one, for me at least:  

Skorman wants to:
  • market Colorado Springs for its medicinal marijuana
  • market Colorado Springs as a popular gay destination;
  • incubate and grow more businesses like and Buddies;
  • attract more talent like this random branding expert
  • become more appealing to the members of the Colorado Springs GLBTA Chamber of Commerce
  • become entangled in citywide "human rights" and "human relations" (code for "gay rights"); and,
  • provide victims with restored justice and peace whenever possible.
Well, sorry, but I'LL PASS.

Call me Mary Poppins...and a prime example of everything that's *wrong* with Colorado Springs...

on all the snifflers and their precious pretend pain... 
and ESPECIALLY on Skorman's proposal to "re-brand" Colorado Springs 

When I was in high school, I was friends with a young man who claimed to be gay...and indeed, he seemed to be "naturally" gay.  I loved him for making me laugh and skipping with me through Palmer's halls whilst holding my hand.  Well, I looked him up on Facebook the other day, and wow...did my friend change.  I don't knowwhat happened in his life to lead him to this...but whatever it was couldn't be good.

Here's an uncomfortable truism for us all to consider:  unlike tattoos, brands do not fade and cannot be removed; once you get branded, you don't outgrow it.  You can re-brand -- that is, brand over top of an existing brand -- but the risk of infection is real, and the ugly scar left behind is permanent.

Think about this:  Skorman actually believes that "The Big Tent" presents a better brand and trademark than our fabulous mountain, Pikes Peak.  I'd like to know what type of tent it is -- a pup oxygen tent?  An MMJ buzz-infusion tent?  Perhaps a circus tent, considering Skorman's dress-up day as Bling the Ringmaster

Colorado used to be known as "Ski Country, USA" also used to be known as (*gasp*) "God's Country" -- brandings that have endured, despite some people who don't like to ski...and others who don't like God.  One person's negative is another person's positive.

Rather than rushing in to (weakly) defend our city's honor and change its image, maybe we should just stick with the original brand.  I've heard Colorado Springs referred to as "Jesus Springs" before -- who's courageous enough to champion that as our city's brand???  How about something "Home of Pikes Peak"...or...if we insist on sending a message to the rest of the naton, how about "Colorado Springs – Conservative Country"...or..."CSCS -- Common Sense Colorado Springs."  Welll....actually, I guess the CSCS acronyms don't have a chance; after all, people might confuse our city brand with "Colorado Springs Christian School."

Not on Skorman's watch.

Oh well...there's a great big mountain in our midst, friends -- maybe if some of you show offs could stop thinking about sex for a minute, you'd happen to notice.

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